Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ireland: The Beara Peninsula (Tuesday, February 26)

Written Tuesday, February 26 at 6:20 pm, Killarney (upstairs in the cottage)

The weather was nicer today, and we headed to the Beara Peninsula, south of Killarney and Kenmare.  First we backtracked to Kenmare by the route we had taken back from there before, then drove the north side of Beara Peninsula along the Kenmare River as it widened out to the sea.

Unfortunately, I left my video camera at the cottage by accident, so no videos today.  Sigh.

The color of the waters were beautiful — green and a rich medium blue — and the landscape was fantastic, with limestone everywhere.  (And sheep, plenty of sheep.)  We stopped several times to view the water landscapes, plus at a ruined house that must have dated back 200 years and a similarly aged ruined church (Kilcatherine, I think) in the midst of gravestones, even with gravestones in the church itself.  There were a myriad of small featureless stones in amidst the ones from the past century which looked likely to be headstones from decades and maybe even centuries ago, when easily-weathering limestone is all that could be used.

A long portion of the road was again single lane, for several miles, although it never felt particularly dangerous due to there being sheep pastures and houses frequently along the way.

After a late lunch in Castletownbere, we went a little further out to the local castle, the ruins of Dunboy Castle (destroyed in 1602 because O’Sullivan Bere was in rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I) and the being-massively-renovated Puxley Castle (burned in 1920 by the IRA, now being restored into the Capella Dunboy Castle hotel).  The signage there answered one of our question about why people had settled out on the near-barren, windswept coasts: because the Normans forced them from their ancestral homelands and this was what was left.  The O’Sullivan clan had been forced to this area; we had seen that name abundant on gravestones earlier in the day.

We drove back on the south side of the peninsula to Glengarriff, and then over Caha Pass and through Turner’s Rock Tunnel, a series of one long and four small rough-hewn tunnels carved through the mountain rock.  We stopped briefly at the Bonane Heritage Park, where there were recreations of various Bronze Age-style sites, but we would have had to walk a 3 km uphill trail, so we stuck with just viewing a crannóog (hut in the middle of a pond) and a short hike up to a viewpoint to see the valley spread out below us.

Finished The Ringworld Throne last night, and as I expected, it didn’t have as good an ending as I wanted.  A big part was the character names; previous books had two or three Ringworld characters with odd names (Harloprillar, etc.), but this one had a dozen or more, making them difficult to track.  There were also large chunks of story in the last 50 pages which were either viewed by the characters rather than involving them directly, or which were related second-hand.  I got the feeling that Niven had more story than he could fit in, and ended up summarizing chunks to move things along instead of them maybe dragging.

Updated on January 5, 2010

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